Stanford Artificial Intelligence course draws avalanche of sign-ups

August 18, 2011 by Nancy Owano weblog
Image: ai-class.com

(PhysOrg.com) -- A whopping 58,000, [the number keeps climbing; this is a conservative total] people have signed up for a single free online course at Stanford. People from around the world—of high school age, adults, and elderly—want to do this one course. The freebie is on Artificial Intelligence. The two professors teaching the course have exceptional calling cards as AI experts. They are Peter Norvig and Sebastian Thrun.

Thrun, a professor of computer science at Stanford, helped develop the well-publicized Google self-driving car, a cloud computing vehicle that runs on sensors, cameras, artificial intelligence, and GPS.

Peter Norvig is Director of Research at Google and with Stuart Russell wrote an important textbook on AI, : A Modern Approach.

In a video to the world, Thrun extends the welcome mat. “Get ready to take a fascinating journey” into AI, he says. “When I was a young student in Germany, there were no classes in AI that I could take.”

The video will load shortly

He and Norvig did not know what to expect when they first announced the course, but an e-mail message that was sent out about it turned into an avalanche of responses that Thrun finds “amazing.” So might the results be as they settle in to teach the course. Their instructional system, to run on an Amazon cloud, will be drawing generously on user feedback.

Unlike Phase One of Internet online course efforts, which were flat video lectures, the Stanford scientists will use streaming Internet video and interactive features for quizzes. Google Moderator software will allow the two teachers to make sure they are answering the most pressing questions.

The 10 week course will present two lectures each week, lasting over an hour but cut up into 15-minute sessions when the user wants to access them, along with homework, and quizzes.

Their inspiration has been Salman Khan, the ex-hedge fund manager who quit his day job to sit in a closet in his home making videotapes of math and science lessons with the aid of a computer screen, tablet and pen. He used his own savings; then movers and shakers took notice. Educators praise Khan for being on to something important: technology as a medium for effective, engaging learning.

Khan’s dream has been to “flip the script” on the education system. In his perfect world, science and math concepts and procedures are taught via technology, not via a desperate teacher shouting about polynomials, to 30 students, many of whom are not keeping up. The Khan computer screen shows moving lines of an equation (not a human frowning face) doing the real work of instruction. Classroom time is used for teacher student collaboration and review.

The online students in the Stanford effort will not get Stanford credit, but they will receive a “statement of accomplishment.”

The AI course is one of three being offered as an experiment by the computer science department at Stanford. The two other courses are an introductory course on database software and an introduction to machine learning.

"I personally would like to see the equivalent of a Stanford computer science degree on the Web,” Andrew Ng told The New York Times. Professor Ng will teach the course on machine learning.

Explore further: Free computer science courses, new teaching technology reinvent online education

More information: www.ai-class.com/

Related Stories

Inspired by insect intelligence

June 17, 2011

Monash University researchers, as part of an international collaboration, are using insect intelligence to develop new wireless sensor networks that could transform how we monitor changes to the environment, buildings and ...

The next STEP in science education

August 3, 2011

By many accounts, the picture of science education in the United States is bleak: American students lag their international peers in standardized test scores, fewer of them are studying science and engineering at the university ...

Recommended for you

Samsung to disable Note 7 phones in recall effort

December 9, 2016

Samsung announced Friday it would disable its Galaxy Note 7 smartphones in the US market to force remaining owners to stop using the devices, which were recalled for safety reasons.

Swiss unveil stratospheric solar plane

December 7, 2016

Just months after two Swiss pilots completed a historic round-the-world trip in a Sun-powered plane, another Swiss adventurer on Wednesday unveiled a solar plane aimed at reaching the stratosphere.

Solar panels repay their energy 'debt': study

December 6, 2016

The climate-friendly electricity generated by solar panels in the past 40 years has all but cancelled out the polluting energy used to produce them, a study said Tuesday.

1 comment

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

Isaacsname
5 / 5 (1) Aug 18, 2011
Khan is awesome !! Nice to see him getting some recognition.

http://www.youtub...nacademy

Stanford U deserves a hand as well, they've also put some great lectures on Youtube.

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.